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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Mobility and internationalisation


13.Mobility and internationalisation

Last update: 27 November 2023

Mobility and Internationalisation

Ireland is a small open economy reliant on international trade to build sustainable long term growth. The Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 has an objective to promote Ireland as the best education and training system in Europe over the coming decade.

The strategy is built on 5 high level goals:

  • Improving the learning experience and success of learners;

  • Improving the progress of learners at risk of educational disadvantage or with special education needs;

  • Helping those delivering education and training to continuously improve;

  • Building stronger bridges between education and the wider community;

  • Improving national planning and support services.

In the foreword to the National Strategy for Higher Education, the Minister for Education and Skills wrote “It is clear that Ireland requires a network of outward facing institutions that are ready and empowered to respond to a varied set of challenges while building on their international reputation of strength and excellence.”

This view is further underlined in the sections dealing with Engagement with the Wider Society which states “Engagement by higher education with wider society takes many forms. It includes engagement with business and industry, with the civic life of the community, with public policy and practice, with artistic, cultural and sporting life and with other educational providers in the community and region, and it includes an increasing emphasis on international engagement.”

The Department of Education and Skills promotes the international dimension of education through:

  • The curriculum content in schools designed to promote citizenship and an awareness of history, geography, arts, languages, culture and rights and responsibilities in the context of Europe and the wider world;

  • Identifying and promoting best practice to achieve the EU 2020 objectives and enahance performance of the education system at every level;

  • Engaging in OECD, EU and UNESCO fora, participating in and disseminating research and promoting best practice at every level of the system, among policy makers, practitioners and learners;

  • Optimising the use of EU Structural Funds and Mobility programmes to promote teacher and learner exchanges, participation in thematic working groups, to align the system with best international standards, and to widen awareness of other cultures, systems, approaches and working environments;

  • A specific International Education Strategy designed to focus on higher education and the English language training sector;

  • Promotion of co-operation with Northern Ireland in the context of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement 1998, the North South Ministerial Council and the Peace IV initiative; 

  • The role of the Council of Education Ministers in forging EU co-operation in education and training;

  • Seconding Irish teachers to the European schools and the placement of English language assistants in schools in our partner countries;

  • The alignment of the Irish national qualifications framework, covering all awards in the State across the education and training system, with the European Qualifications Framework;

  • The role of Quality and Qualifications Ireland in the recognition of foreign qualifications;

  • Meeting the quality assurance criteria of the Bologna and Copenhagen processes for higher education and vocational education and training;

  • Ensuring representation by experts in EU Working Groups on schools, vocational education and training, adult learning, digital skills and competences, promoting citizenship, tolerance and non–discrimination.

The National Strategy for Higher Education aims to increase the economic value of this sector grow to €2.1bn per annum by 2020, a 33% increase. This will involve over 37,000 additional international Higher Education and English Language Training Students coming to Ireland. This will bring the total number of International Higher Education and ELT students in Ireland to over 176,000.

Funding under this strategy will be directed at promotional and marketing campaigns in key target markets such as the US, China, India, Brazil, Malaysia and the Gulf Region, while increasing our focus on high potential market opportunities in countries such as Canada, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Nigeria. The strategy will focus on:

  • Ensuring a cohesive integrated national approach and framework;

  • Strengthening the focus of higher education institutions on internationalisation with each institution developing its own plan to increase numbers of international students and develop marketing opportunities and linkages. The aim is to increase the proportion of international students in higher education by 33%;

  • Promoting the English language training sector, supported by improved marketing and enhanced quality assurance, to grow the sector by 25% over the lifetime of the plan;

  • The visibility of the Education in Ireland brand will be strengthened and alumni engagement maximised to support the recruitment of international students and to enhance academic and research co-operation.

A key part of the strategy is to create internationally oriented globally competitive higher education institutions, attracting world class academics and researchers to Ireland, increasing outward mobility for Irish students, academics and researchers, promoting collaborative partnerships, building world class networks of learning and innovation, and connecting the benefits of internationalisation with enterprises to achieve national economic goals. Education in Ireland and the Irish embassies abroad will play a key role in marketing Ireland as a centre of excellence for education.